This post comes from the Gravyty Fundraising Academy, a series that examines how fundraisers adapt and strategize to evolve what's possible through philanthropy.
Your guide for the Gravyty Fundraising Academy is VP of Customer Success, Lisa Alvezi. Lisa has worked with countless fundraisers across Higher Education, Health Care, and Nonprofit organizations to transform fundraising. As a former frontline fundraiser herself, her goal is to help you see better results from your fundraising efforts.
Earn the Trust of Your First-Time Donors Early
Especially when it comes to first-time donors, the reason retention is so tricky is that they simply don't have enough touchpoints with the wonderful humans that make up your organization to know whether or not to trust you with another gift. And, if it's some form of marketing automation that tells them what an incredible impact their gift makes, the message received is often similar to the experience of an online job applicant: "Thank you for your application. Due to high volume, our team is unable to respond to all applicants. If we feel you are a fit for this position, we'll contact you." In other words, "Thank you, but your gift wasn't large enough to warrant another human's time."
All nonprofit organizations face challenges with the human capacity of fundraisers, especially around stewardship from first-time donors. However, there is still something that feels raw about this deal from the donor journey perspective.
How can we do a better job to earn the trust of donors who we still do not know on a personal level?
How many times do you reach out to your first-time donors or any donor that you're focused on retaining? A fundraiser might feel like they are losing a donor if they send information or reach out without a reply. However, each one of these touchpoints is further proof that you are, indeed, a real person reaching out to make a real connection. If you attempt to connect a couple of times at the beginning of your process and then teeter off throughout the rest of the year, you risk feeding into the assumption that the organization lost interest in the donor.
Stay the course – build on your touchpoints and don't give up early.
When writing a message to a donor, does it feel similar to how you would speak with them face-to-face? Although professional communications are deeply rooted in formality, it's not the way we talk. In fact, formal communications often read like a form letter or the fine print of an extended warranty plan. On top of this, the general language we use when thanking donors can feel a bit restrictive. Consider writing as you speak to develop a tone that inspires two-way communication and helps grow relationships faster.
Conversations build trust. Especially as we think of first-time donors or those who haven't had enough time in the door to establish trust, it's crucial to disarm your conversations. Perhaps a donor will avoid a conversation because they think it's just another solicitation. However, suppose you can convey that you want to learn about them, their affinities and give them an update on your organization. In that case, you have a better chance to push the conversation forward. Structure conversations so active listening is at the core, and you just separated yourself from 99% of the conversations they have in a typical day.
If you’d like to learn more about how artificial intelligence can empower your organization to have a culture of philanthropy, personally reach new donors, and inspire giving at scale, connect with Gravyty today.